Animals can be very therapeutic for individuals with dementia – whether the animals are “real” or not! For individuals who may no longer be able to care for a pet, you can now purchase robotic cats and dogs that perform all the basic functions of a pet – making noise and responding to movement. Not only do they cause individuals to recall memories of past pets and fond childhood memories, but companion pets can help make individuals more engaged with their surroundings and coherent in conversation. While people may sometimes be overwhelming to an individual with dementia, a dog or a cat brings comfort and familiarity. The physical touch and responsiveness of pets can also be therapeutic individuals. Additionally, animals can help to foster a sense of community among other individuals who have dementia, adding a social element that helps to elevate quality of life.
Horticulture and Gardening
Another alternative therapy for individuals with dementia is horticulture or gardening. Whether it’s planting herbs, growing and arranging flowers, or simply enjoying a pleasant walk in the garden, interacting with nature can help to boost both physical and mental health. Gardening and growing requires small, manageable movements that serve as a form of occupational therapy for individuals who may be struggling with motor skills. Additionally, exposure to the sunlight and living things such as herbs and flowers can help to ward off depression.
Music has an incredible power to invoke emotion and affect attitude. For example, calm, soothing music can help to temper anxiety or agitation. A song that is light and upbeat can encourage people to smile and make small movements, keeping time with the beat. Additionally, listening to old favorites can help individuals recall memories from their younger days, earning a smile and, on occasion, a story. In this way, music can be therapeutic for an individual, while also playing a key role in starting conversations and building relationships.
Want to learn more about alternative therapies and how to integrate them into a plan of care for your loved one? We would love to talk to you! To speak with a personalized consultant from Iris Memory Care, please contact us!